King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Samuel 21

The Gibeonites avenged. (1-9) Rizpah’s care for the bodies of Saul’s descendants. (10-14) Battles with the Philistines. (15-22)

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The Gibeonites avenged

1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?

4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.

5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD’s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

Rizpah’s care for the bodies of Saul’s descendants

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.

Battles with the Philistines

15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.

16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.

17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.

19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.

22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Of David, after the revolt of Seba. C. — House. It seems the family and chief officers of Saul, had concurred in his cruelty and unjust zeal. Hence many of them might be still living, to undergo this chastisement; and the rest of the people were guilty of some faults. H. — If they had been perfectly innocent, still God is the dispenser of his own gifts. He is under no obligation of sending health and peace to his creatures. The just often derive greater advantage from crosses than from prosperity. The exemplary punishment of Saul’s family was a lesson to kings, and to all mankind, to teach them how they ought to observe justice and the sanctity of oaths. — Gabaonites; probably after the slaughter of the priests, at Nobe. 1 K. xxii. 19. C.

Ver. 2. Amorrhites, by which name all the nations of Chanaan were frequently designated. Gen. xv. 16. M. — They were properly Hevites. — Juda. As if Josue, and all succeeding governors, had acted wrong. Ex. xxiii. 33. Josue vi. 19. Saul ought, at least, to have consulted God. C.

Ver. 3. Atonement, to expiate the injury done to you by Saul; (M.) and that you may turn your curses into blessings. The ancients were convinced, that God attends to the imprecations of the innocent. C.

Ver. 4. Gold. It is supposed that David made them an offer of some. Salien, A. 1040. — Israel besides. At first they required all the progeny of Saul, nine in number, to be crucified: but, at David’s request, and intimation that he had sworn to protect the sons of Jonathan, Miphiboseth and Micha, (H.) they were content with the death of seven. M. — They insisted upon the law of retaliation. Salien. — The custom of delivering up criminals to be executed by the relations of the injured dead, still subsists in the East. C.

Ver. 6. Chosen. Some think it improbable that they should give Saul this title; and Castalion would substitute ber, “in the mountain,” (v. 9) instead of bechir, “anointed,” a title which Junius, however, refers to David: “O thou anointed,” &c. C. — But why might not these people recognize this character in Saul, which would make the punishment more disgraceful, as they chose the city of Saul, in preference, for the execution of his unhappy offspring? H. — Them, having received an order from God, lest the people might suspect that he was gratifying his private revenge. E. Josep. vii. 10. 12.

Ver. 8. Of Michol. They were the sons of Merob, who was married to Hadriel; but they are here called the sons of Michol, because she adopted them, and brought them up as her own: (Ch. Chal. S. Jer. Trad.) or Merob ws called Michol; (Sa.) or, what seems most probable, from the word she bore being used, (Cajet.) and as two sisters would hardly have the same name, (H.) Micholhas crept into the text instead of Merob. Capel. Salien. C. 1 K. xxv. 44.

Ver. 9. Lord. The prophets had frequented this hill. 1 K. viii. 4. 13. So the Gabaonites crucified these seven, before an ancient altar, as victims to appease God’s anger, (C.) for the treaty with them having been violated, (H.) particularly after they had embraced the true religion. Salien. Deut. x. 19. — Barley, about Easter. M.

Ver. 10. Hair-cloth, to sleep on, occasionally. — Heaven. The famine had been caused by drought. As soon therefore as rain fell, David was assured that God was appeased. He had suffered the bodies to hang so long, for that purpose, though commonly they were to be taken down before night. M. — Respha is supposed, by some, to have guarded the bodies from spring till the rain fell in autumn. But the former opinion seems more plausible. We here behold the custom of watching by the bodies of the dead. See Iliad xxiii. — Beasts. The gibbets were formerly very low. C. — Thus Blandina was exposed to wild beasts. Euseb. Hist. v. 1.

Ver. 11. Done. Her piety and affliction were extraordinary. She had been brought up in delicacies, and was a person of uncommon beauty, so as to captivate Abner. C. iii. 8. She must now have been advanced in years. H.

Ver. 14. Side of the mountain, or in distinct cavities. C. — Many suppose that Tsela, or Sela, is the name of a place (M.) not far from Gabaa. Jos. xviii. 28. C. — Many proper names are thus translated. D.

Ver. 15. Again: it is not certain at what time. Some think it was towards the beginning of David’s reign, since he leads his men to battle; or the Philistines might have made an irruption into his dominions, about three years after the death of Absalom. C. — David had offered to put himself at the head of the army, against his son. C. xviii. 2. H. — Faint. He was now sixty-four years old. Salien.

Ver. 16. Jesbibenob may signify, “Jesbi, the son of Ob.” Sept. “Jesbe, of Nob, who was of the race of the giants.” Arapha seems to have been one of great fame, (v. 18-21-22) who had several children; unless other giants assumed his name. C. — Ounces. Heb. “sicles of brass, in weight.” Sicles is only understood, as on similar occasions. Neither is sword expressed; (H.) so that some think he had on a new suit of armour. Sym. “a sword.” Rom. Sept. “a club.” The weight of the whole spear is specified in Heb. Sept. &c. (C.) as weighing “300—of brass,” (H.) of which metal it seems to have been formed, as the Jews had no such money till the captivity. C.

Ver. 17. Lamp; glory and protection. Achilles reproaches himself for not having been “a light to” his friend. Iliad S.

Ver. 18. Gob, as Gazer was called by the Philistines; (1 Par. xx. 4. Salien) unless (H.) the former word be a mistake of the transcriber. C. — Sept. (Alex.) reads, Geth. H. — Sobochai, one of David’s valiant men. 1 Par. xi. 29. — Saphai is added in 1 Chron. xx.

Ver. 19. Adeodatus, the son of Forrest. So it is rendered in the Latin Vulgate, by giving the interpretation of the Hebrew names, which are Elhanan, the son of Jaare. Ch. — We should translate all the proper names, or none; as the present mode is extremely perplexing. Adeodatus might therefore be rendered, “God given;” (Dieudonne, as the French have it, though they will not translate Saltus, but leave Jaare) or, if Adeodatus must remain, as it is sometimes a proper name, why may not Saltus? A mere English reader might suppose that Forrest was a Hebrew name, and , with Swift in jest, maintain the high antiquity of our language. H. — Regularly proper names should be retained. C. — But the learned have often chosen to give the import of foreign names, in the language in which they have been writing. See Du Thou’s History. Thus Dubois is styled Sylvius; Newman, Neander; &c. — An embroiderer. Prot. make this a part of the man’s name, “Jaare-oregim.” Sept. “the son of Ariorgeim.” In 1 Par. xx. no notice is taken of his profession. H. — That passage will evince that Elhanan is not the same with David, as some would infer from the mention of Goliath’s death, but the son of Jair, uncle of Joab, (C. xxxiii. 24.) who was born at Bethlehem, though the verse in Paral. would insinuate less correctly, that the giant’s name was Lechem, thus, “Elehanan…slew Lechem, the brother,” &c. as the copyist had written ath instead of bith. C. — Our version has not this mistake: “Adeodatus, the son of Saltus, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath, the Gethite,” &c. 1 Par. xx. 5. H. — “It would be difficult to find a passage more disfigured than the present; and, without the help of the Paral. it would be impossible to make it out.” C. — Kennicott makes a similar remark. Diss. i. and ii. But he believes that the Book of Chronicles, though the latest, and usually the most corrupt, of the Old Testament, is here perfectly correct; and that the passage before us is strangely corrupted, “Jaare Oregim, a Bethlehemite,” being placed instead of , …”Jaor slew Lahmi,” as he thinks that oregim, “weavers,” has been inserted from the line below, p. 79. Josephus (vii. 10.) relates this transaction as follows, “When the king had sent a fresh army against them, Nephan, his relation, displayed the greatest valour. for engaging in a single combat with the bravest man of the Philistines, and killing his antagonist, he caused the rest to turn their backs, and many of the enemy fell in that battle.” Thus he evades all the difficulty, adding much out of his own head; and by Nephan, designating Elehanan, the son of his (Joab’s) uncle, (C. xxiii. 24.) or Dodo, a word which the Vulg. renders patrui ejus, “his paternal uncle,” though it hat a wider signification, and denotes other relations. Hence, as Joab was the nephew of David, this brave man might be in the same degree, and born of one of the children of Isai; or, perhaps, Josephus infers that he was a kinsman of David, because he was of the same city. H. — Goliath. He might have the same name as his brother, who had been slain by David forty-three years before; (Salien) or the title of brother may only signify, that this giant resembled the former in size and strength. Prov. xviii. 9. — Beam. See 1 K. xvii. 7. C.

Ver. 20. Fourth. Josephus says this was the last war with the Philistines; and Tostat. supposes, that they wished to retake the city of Geth. Salien. — Statute, or “of contradiction.” Aquila. — Heb. Madon. Sept. leave it as the proper name of a place, “Madon,” specified Josue xi. 1. and xii. 19. Capel would read, “a man of Madian.” — Six. Such people were styled Sedigiti, among the Romans. The daughters of Horatius were thus distinguished, as well as the poet Volcatius. Pliny xi. 43.

Ver. 22. Of David, who was present, though it does not appear that he slew any of the four. C.